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Law of Insouciance

November 26, 2007

by the narrator

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
-Matthew 19:23-26

Every endowed Latter-day Saint has promised to live the law of consecration, and yet somehow most Latter-day Saints believe it has been revoked. The most condemned of sins in the Book of Mormon (a book written for our day) is the disparity of the rich and poor, and yet instead of condemning the rich our leaders spend their efforts (and our tithing) condemning gays. (Incidentally, the leading cause of divorce in this nation is economic difficulties, not homosexual tendencies).

For a church that often decries the excision of plain and precious things from the scriptures, how is it that our lessons, talks, and worship ignore such plain and precious teachings? Last Sunday, I noticed that our lesson on the epistle of James successfully skipped over every verse referencing the poor, transforming James’ diatribe against rich Christians into a primary children’s lesson on faith and prayer.

And of course when we cannot excise, we revise. Like an editor of Matthew’s Gospel, our lessons have the tendency of turning those ragged and embarrassing poor into poor in spirit. When the rich young man came to Jesus and asked what he must do to attain eternal life, the savior asked him to sell all he had and give to the poor. How often in Church when we come across these verses (and those like them) do we ask how we can help those who are spiritually destitute? Or how often do revise these verses so that they are only asking us to do the basics – home teaching, callings, visiting teaching, parenting, and maybe the occasional helping the neighbors (bonus points if they aren’t members!)? Heaven forbid, that we actually read it with an injunction to give up our luxuries to help those in poverty.

When pressed, Latter-day Saints admit that the Law of Consecration had not been revoked, but like our scriptures, it is ‘spiritually’ revised. Yes, we admit, we should consecrate our times, our talents, and our energies. Press us further and we might concede the money, but quickly add that there isn’t a way to do it. Mention the poverty existing throughout the world and the ease of making donations, and we’ll give another excuse. When it comes down to it, it’s just too difficult. Like the rich young man, we love our possessions too much. We love our excessively large homes, our high-definition television screens, the Lexuses (Lexi?) in our garages, sushi, DVDs, PS3s, Wiis, and XBOX 360s. We want to need our expensive clothes, computer accessories, mountain bikes (my personal favorite sin), fine cuisine, books, furniture, gear, and musical concerts. When draped with such luxuries, we are easily able to forget about those pesky starving children in Africa, the single mothers in the urban ghettos, and the destitute families resulting from exported-labor-inspired layoffs.

Communism, we’ll say, is Satan’s perversion of the Law of Consecration. The former, we’ll say, is forced, the latter is free (don’t tell this to Ananias and Sapphira though (Acts 5:1-10)). So we’ll pick Satan’s other plan: ignorance and apathy.

After hearing Jesus’ pronouncement of the difficulties for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, perhaps Peter compared the needle in his pocket to a nearby trader’s camel. But the metaphor was unnecessary. Peter had just witnessed the failings of humanity. He knew we love our possession more than those around us.

“Who then can be saved?” What person would do such a thing?

“With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

But we lack that kind of faith. I lack that faith.

And so you and I will love our possessions.

And so the poor will always be with us.

And together we will live in sin and hell. (D&C 49:20)

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57 comments

  1. I remeber sitting in a stake center in Lima, Peru during the 2001, April General Conference. I was in a room, along with about five other “North American” Elders watching it in English, while our Peruvian companions were in the chapel watching it in Spanish. It was Saturday night and President Hinkley announced a newly created program called the Perpetual Educational Fund. As I was listening to what the PEF entailed, my mind was turned to my companion who was in an adjacent room. I had a year of college under my belt at that time and I was looking forward to at least another three years after my return. I already had the funds and the means in place for it; thanks to my parents, my own savings, and some from Uncle Sam. On the other hand, my companion had the desire to go to school but lacked any means to go there.
    I found myself in a very similiar situation six months later. I was with a different companion in a different stake center in Lima watching General Conference. In between sessions, Elder Eyring was talking about the PEF. He quoted a scripture in D&C that spoke about the injustice of a father who has twelve sons, six are clothed in robes while the other half are dressed in rags. If we cannot be one, we cannot be the Lord’s he says. The Law of Consecration was written upon the tables of my heart at that moment. I’ll admit that I have not lived up to that covenant but I do know that if we want to go where God dwells, we have to be like Him, and that entails giving everything we have to Him. Not only our money, (which is not even ours to begin with), but we must surrender our minds and our hearts to Him as well.
    The Narrator just wrote a very compelling and meaningfull discourse on the Law of Consecration. Zion could have been redeemed by now if members were living this law. We do love our possessions and our obsessions more than we love eachother.


  2. great job, loyd!


  3. Loyd,
    I really appreciated what you wrote and enjoyed it. Each of us needs to take a personal inventory on where we stand on this issue. To truly live this law, I think it means that we need to sacrifice, not just give away a little here and there that we may have in excess and when it is convenient. Great thoughts.


  4. You have made an oft repeated mistake here. The Law of Consecration is not what you have suggested it as. You are thinking of the United Order. The Law of Consecration is that you will dedicate everything to the church and the establishment of Zion. It does not mean that you will turn everything over to the church, but that you will if asked. When you are asked to do that you are asked to live the United Order.

    Please back up your argument with statistics. What is the percentage of leader’s efforts/tithes (and offerings) that is spent on gay bashing and what is the percentage that is spent on helping the poor? I would assume that your so called “gay bashing” percentage pales in comparison to helping the poor. I won’t guarantee it without looking up the figures, but I would never write a thesis based on a stat-less argument.

    I’m not saying that we don’t have to do more for the poor. I am saying that you should have a better argument when you openly oppose the church in a public forum.


  5. What’s your point, Tom? Do you think God is pleased that we love our riches more than we love our fellows?

    Obviously this is not a blanket statement. There are those who DO love their fellows more than they love their stuff, and they are blessed beyond measure for it . But they are few and far between.

    Your comment is designed to distract and obfuscate. All the evidence we need is in the disparities.


  6. The main point is that we DO NOT live the law of the United Order and the Narrator has made an oft repeated mistake in misunderstanding the definition of the Law of Consecration. Its hard to take an essay seriously when the thesis statement is embarrassingly erroneous.


  7. Every endowed Latter-day Saint has promised to live the law of consecration

    This statement is actually not entirely correct. But that is all I will say about that.

    I also agree with Tom that there is a conflation of ideas here. I think that the law of consecration is not the same as the United Order, and it is much broader than the concept of helping the poor, as important as that is.

    That said, I believe any individual can be in a state of heart where the law of consecration is lived, and I do agree that each ought to take personal inventory of where he/she stands with regard to sacrifice and helping others.

    I do think, though, that part of ultimately living that law is about putting everything on the altar. This isn’t just about physical goods and money. It’s about sacrificing all that we have and are, including our wills. I think that also means sacrificing our suppositions that we know better than our leaders on how sacred funds ought to be used. 🙂 The gospel encompasses the whole plan of salvation. As critical as our treatment of the poor is, if we only focus on that, we will miss all else that sacrifice, the gospel, and the law of consecration include. IMO, we could give away all we possess in physical goods and still be holding back if we haven’t given our hearts to all that the Lord’s cause entails.


  8. Tom,

    I very well know the difference between the Law of Consecration and the United Order. The United Order was the attempt to implement the Law of Consecration into a theocratic socio-economic utopia. The Law of Consecration is our covenant to consecrate our selves, our talents, our time and everything the Lord has given us (and will give us) – for the establishment of the Kingdom of God and Zion.

    Establishing the Kingdom of God and Zion is more than simplistic missionary work and adding numbers to the roles of the church. According to Jesus, being a part of the kingdom of heaven was to contingent upon divesting oneself of one’s wealth to help the poor. When Jesus was asked which commandment was greatest. He responded that it was to love God and love your neighbor. Matthew 25: 31-46 is an elaboration on this. We show our love to God by loving our neighbors. Here Jesus is quite explicit on what divides those who are a part of the kingdom of heaven and those who are not. It is those who help the poor, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit those in prisons, etc. Moses 7:8 defines Zion as having “no poor among them.” D&C 42 states commands us to “remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.” Tom, I very well know the difference between the Law of Consecration and the United Order. The Law of Consecration is the celestial principle underlying nearly every commandment.

    As far as statistics go, it should be clear and plain to everyone who pays attention to general conference and church pronouncements that the disparity of the rich and poor is rarely (if ever) brought up, while homosexuality is brought up over and over and over again.

    m&m,

    you are doing almost the very thing I was talking about. I am not claiming that the Law of Consecration is only about property and wealth. It includes the other things. However, the scriptural emphasis on the Law of Consecration (and related teachings) primarily deals with our duty to lift the poor from oppression by imparted our wealth to them. It’s all over the Book of Mormon. It’s all over the gospels. It’s all over the D&C. It’s all over the epistles. It’s throughout the Old Testament. It’s at the heart of Zion in the PofGP. The focus on the Law of Consecration in the scriptures is the poor, but our services and our rhetoric, as you well exemplify, want to divert that focus elsewhere. You said it perfectly,

    “This isn’t just about physical goods and money. It’s about sacrificing all that we have and are, including our wills. . . . The gospel encompasses the whole plan of salvation. As critical as our treatment of the poor is, if we only focus on that, we will miss all else that sacrifice, the gospel, and the law of consecration include.”

    The first of Jesus’ beatitudes was a blessing to the poor. The second was to the suffering. The third are the powerless. The fourth were those who hunger and thirst for equality and justice. The fifth were those who seek to help the previous four. The sixth were those who do it for the right reasons. The seventh were those who seek peace. The eighth are those who are persecuted for trying to equate equality.

    That is the Gospel. To love one another.

    “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. ”

    If we have given up all that we have to help the poor and destitute, I assure you that we have given up all our hearts to God. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto God.”


  9. Ann, way to put words in Tom’s mouth. You said ” Do you think God is pleased that we love our riches more than we love our fellows?” Obviously that is not the intent of his comment. I don’t know a single member of the church that would argue something as ridiculous as that. I imagine he is trying to clarify something that is false in the Narrator’s article, which I appreciate. It seems that he is not in fact trying to “distract and obfuscate”. I am all for pursuing truth and bettering ourselves, and if that means critiquing ourselves tactfully, then so be it.
    As for the Narrator, I find it hard to take your article seriously when you are grossly misrepresenting things from the Book of Mormon and the leadership of the church.
    Although I don’t deny the Book of Mormon prophets condemning the LOVE OF RICHES, and that currently the world and many members of the church are guilty of this, I know that you are wrong by saying “The most condemned of sins in the Book of Mormon (a book written for our day) is the disparity of the rich and poor…” You in no way backed that statement up and didn’t even use scripture to fortify it. I get the feeling that you have an agenda and are going to say whatever you feel to achieve that.
    The reason I don’t believe that is true is because you can find harsher language and condemnation from prophets regarding other sins. Namely, the sin of infidelity within marriage. Read Jacob’s razor sharp condemnation to the Nephite men in Jacob chapter 2. I really love this chapter too because even though he condemns the love of money (read the chapter heading and verses 12-14), there is a greater sin he needed to address. He also mentions in verse 16 that “this pride” is what will destroy them. It is not the money or the possessions themselves that will condemn them, it is their pursuit and love of money and their pride they get from it. This is for another post though, and I don’t want to digress too much from my point.
    So we see that he condemns the love of money, but what does he follow this up with? What is the greater sin? Read verse 22 very carefully. He says “And now I make an end of speaking unto you concerning this PRIDE. And were it not that I must speak unto you concerning a GROSSER crime, my heart would rejoice exceedingly because of you.” So obviously there is a greater sin and a greater crime than the love of money. (Again, I don’t deny that it is a problem. It is one that I wish were not so prevalent today) This “greater sin” is the infidelity that he begins to denounce. So, before you go and openly criticize the leaders of the church, first understand the scriptures that you are using as the basis of your argument.


  10. Travis,

    when I speak of the most condemned sin in the Book of Mormon, I am making referring to the quantity, not quality of the condemnation. I guarantee you that the failure to care for the poor is condemned far more than any other sin in the Book of Mormon. I could waste hours making a list for you, but I’m not going to. You can open up your Book of Mormon yourself and count them. The same goes with Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels. How often is homosexuality (a favorite target of church leaders today) condemned in the Book of Mormon – a book written for our time– ? Zero.

    I’ll concur with you that Jacob placed a greater emphasis on infidelity in his sermon. However, that still does not obscure the fact that the failure to care for the poor is condemned more often in the BofM. I’m at Borders right now taking a break from studying for the GRE with poor a poor internet connection, else I’d start providing a list of proof-texts. If you want a great list, pick up Hugh Nibley’s Approaching Zion where he makes the very same argument I have been making today.

    As far as the whole ‘love of money’ thing goes, that becomes an issue of semantics and word play which we as Saints love to appeal to in order to protect our precious possessions. The sin of loving wealth and failing to care for the poor are one and the same. Loving wealth is a sin because that results in our failure to care for God’s beloved and suffering chilren. I can assure you that God cares more about the well-being of his suffering children than the mere location of mammon on our personal love-meters. If God actually cares about the latter more than the former, then send me to hell… cuz I wouldn’t want to spend a moment of eternity with such a beast.

    “Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them?”


  11. I forgot to close my boldface html there sorry.

    This was meant to be a rather personal reflection on my own experience with the Law of Consecration – about my own failings as a sinner to act according to the gospel. I would say that I came of age during my mission after reading Hugh Nibley’s Approaching Zion on my mission, and witnessing poverty and mass unemployment for the first time in my life – and this was in Hawaii where the standard of living for the poor still far exceeds those in third world countries. Since then, I have been well aware of my failings to do as Christ taught. I’ve found myself actively turning off my cognizant awareness of the suffering in the world in order to enjoy my luxuries – luxuries that could well serve to alleviate the suffering of many.

    I have the feeling that if I had not written the one line about church leaders in my initial post, that I would have received much much less criticism than what I have received. However, I believe that in being asked to participate in this blog I have been asked to be honest with my feelings. A few years ago, I lost my faith in the modern church (and God in general) largely because of frustrations with choices of some church leaders. Since then, through much struggling and prayer, I have found my faith in God and the restoration. Yet, many of those frustrations still exist. Since then I have voiced those frustrations and have found that I am not alone. Some of you may feel that I am already apostate, evil, or whatever for sometimes disagreeing with the leaders of the church – go ahead and feel that way. For me however, it is because of my faith in the Gospel, my faith in the restoration, my faith in Christ, my faith in a saving atonement, and my faith in continuing revelation that I feel this way.


  12. Church leaders ARE fallible humans. Anyone who thinks otherwise is living in la-la-land. If you need proof, look no further than Pres. Hinckley. On the eve of Bush saber rattling to invade Iraq, Pres. Hinckley was right there with him, assuring us that Bush was being “frank and straightforward”, and that “those of us who are American citizens stand solidly with the president of our nation. The terrible forces of evil must be confronted and held accountable for their actions”, followed with scriptural quotes to justify war.

    Just a few years later we get a different perspective from him: “The terrible wounds of war have left bodies maimed and minds destroyed. Families have been left without fathers and mothers. Young people who have been recruited to fight have, in many instances, died while those yet alive have had woven into the very fabric of their natures elements of hatred which will never leave them. The treasure of nations has been wasted and will never be recovered. The devastation of war seems so unnecessary and such a terrible waste of human life and national resources. We ask, will this terrible, destructive way of handling disagreements among the sons and daughters of God ever end?”

    It would seem doubtful, given that even the one man holding all the keys couldn’t see the godforsaken mess that Bush was leading our nation into.


  13. I think this is an excellent post, but I think I’ll refrain from jumping into the debate. I’ll just comment on the post itself.

    Although not entirely unique in the religious world of nineteenth-century America, the principles underpinning the Law of Consecration and the United Order were nonetheless radical. Perhaps those principles are more radical today.

    It’s not just that we are a vain, materialistic society. Private property is practically sacred in America, and it has been from the nation’s inception. While many have demonstrated that the neither the Law of Consecration nor the United Order abolished private property (most of which arguments have been made for the express purpose of distinguishing the United Order from Socialism), the proposition of turning all of one’s earthly possessions over to another entity without financial compensation, or of deeding all of one’s land to a church in return for an “inheritance” or “stewardship,” may be antithetical to the traditional American worldview. The redistributive implications of the LoC and the UO are just hard for private property-loving, capitalist, do-it-yourself Americans to swallow. As long as the wealthy among us make an honest living and are reasonably generous, we don’t see a moral problem in the wealth deficit between them (or us, as the case may be) and their (our) less fortunate neighbors.

    Consequently, we talk about the application of the Law of Consecration in the abstract, as the Narrator points out. While the rendering of one’s whole being and will to God is theoretically more demanding than turning over property, it’s not tangible or quantifiable. There’s no physical deed that we turn over, and our degree of commitment to this principle is much less measurable than our obedience to the law of tithing or the Word of Wisdom.


  14. Steve, I appreciate your comments and agree with you. We can even see the results of this in today’s society. I believe the current housing problems in the nation (foreclosures, etc.) are a direct result of this flawed mindset. Too much “keeping up with the Jones’s” attitude also.
    Narrator, I feel like you would have a much more valid argument if you approached this topic (and many of your other topics) with much less disdain and disgust for the leadership of the church.
    I am often reminded of Brigham Young’s quote on apostasy and criticizing our leaders. I will post that and more references later today, but I have to run for now.


  15. “I have the feeling that if I had not written the one line about church leaders in my initial post, that I would have received much much less criticism than what I have received. … I have found my faith in God and the restoration. Yet, many of those frustrations still exist.”

    I too do not feel that the leaders of the church are perfect. I don’t mean just in their non-ecclesiastical lives either. Despite that I do not feel that it is appropriate to criticize them in public. I am glad that you have found your faith again. I went through a similar experience many years ago after my mission, so I feel for you.

    I want you to be happy and 1) from previous experiences in my 50+ years, I do fear that whatever allows you to feel comfortable in voicing these criticisms publicly is also something that brings you greater sorrow than you should feel during this life. The earthly manifestation of Christ’s gospel is not perfect. Do your humble part to help out in positive ways and your life will feel much lighter and more enjoyable.

    2) Similarly, from the scriptures we know that God himself weeps for the sins (and suffering) of this world. Do not let the poverty, imperfections of others, etc. cause you such sorrow. A positive person will have a greater effect when it comes to changing others for the better!


  16. Those last 2 paragraphs didn’t come out exactly right. I’m not implying in any way that we ignore the sufferings of others, just that we don’t let it affect us to such a degree that we miss positive ways to help and improve others/situation and only/mostly work via negative methods.


  17. I do not feel that it is appropriate to criticize them in public

    I realize that we have been conditioned to equate criticism with “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed”, but how on earth does anything ever change if we just grit our teeth and keep our mouths shut and maintain the status quo? The Church isn’t perfect — neither the leaders nor all of their decisions or policies. If they were, nothing would ever change, nor need change.

    And if public criticism is not allowed nor tolerated, then neither is private criticism, which is really just a waste of breath. Certainly criticism should be respectful, thoughtful, and reasoned. And yet the church has pretty much made it impossible for anyone to question anything. GA leaders isolate and insulate themselves from the membership, requiring any doubts or concerns be addressed to local leaders, who have no more ability to approach the brethren than anyone else. And thus the status quo is carefully preserved, and all remains well in Zion, at least on the surface. The disaffected, the troubled, the concerned and the marginalized are left to quietly slink away, tarnished with the apostate brush, when sometimes all they really want are some straight answers.


  18. Trevor,

    I would hardly call my frustrations with church leaders “disdain and disgust.” Please don’t put words in my mouth (that sounds so familiar…). And I don’t understand how my frustrations make my argument any less valid (was I even making an argument?), unless you enjoy ad hominem arguments. Oh well.

    Tom,

    Thanks.


  19. Steve – excellent post

    Rich – I believe that if you want to change the church you can talk to higher up leaders. Why talk to your bishop about something church wide? He is only going to want to change your opinion. You can write letters to the GA’s, discuss issues like church doctrine vs gays WITH OUT criticizing the leaders. It is possible and I think can be beneficial. Women have more rights in the church today because of people that acted appropriately and never because of anyone that criticized a leader.


  20. I meant that it can be beneficial, for example what has happened with women in the church, not that we should try to change the church to accept homosexuality. Although I think people should be much more kind to people who struggle with homosexuality, I do not think we should accept that desire as ok or good. For some it is a legitimate biological predisposition, but that doesn’t mean it is ok to act on that desire.


  21. derailed by a discussion of following the leaders….

    a sign that organizational loyalty is more important than helping out the poor in our culture? sometimes i wonder if i do believe in a different god than those around me.


  22. derailed by a discussion of following the leaders….

    a sign that organizational loyalty is more important than helping out the poor in our culture? sometimes i wonder if i do believe in a different god than those around me.


  23. I don’t really want to jump in to the leader criticism debate, but I think the Narrator said it well in comment #11: “I have the feeling that if I had not written the one line about church leaders in my initial post, that I would have received much much less criticism than what I have received.”

    I have very strong feelings about the right of church members to speak out on issues that are important to them and offer constructive criticism. Criticism should not uniformly be equated with “disgust and disdain.” However, I recognize that others may have different opinions on what constitutes “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed,” and that’s fine.

    But in responding to the Narrator’s post, I would suggest that personal opinions about the appropriateness of the criticism aren’t particularly helpful. As the Narrator said, such comments often boil down to ad hominem attacks, and therefore don’t do anything to negate the criticism itself. I think we’ll all have a more pleasant and productive dialogue if we can keep comments regarding others’ potential apostasy to a minimum.


  24. Steve, I appreciate your comments and agree with you. We can even see the results of this in today’s society. (#14)

    I should mention that my comments about the sanctity with which private property is regarded in the United States weren’t meant to be condemnatory per se. I don’t think that the importance of private property rights in the U.S. should automatically be construed as materialism. I mean, D&C 134 affirms their importance–

    “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life. . . .

    “We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded” (D&C 134:2, 11).

    I mean, some of the Saints’ largest grievances in the early years were that the persecutions had deprived them of their property (their land, in particular).

    In distinguishing the United Order from Socialism, Marion G. Romney asserted that while Socialism converts private property to public property, the United Order preserved private property rights:

    “Having thus voluntarily divested himself of title to all his
    property, the consecrator received from the Church a stewardship by a
    like conveyance. This stewardship could be more or less than his
    original consecration, the object being to make ‘every man equal
    according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants
    and needs.’ (D&C 51:3.)

    “This procedure preserved in every man the right to private
    ownership and management of his property. At his own option he could
    alienate it or keep and operate it and pass it on to his heirs.”

    While Romney may be correct, I would nonetheless contend that the United Order presented a substantial challenge to American notions of private property and free enterprise. The Constitution ensures that the government can’t take its citizens’ land, even in part, unless for a public purpose, and even then it must render just compensation. The United Order was based on the idea that church members would deed to the Church their land, which it would then redistribute according to their needs. This type of radical redistribution has been ardently avoided in the public realm throughout America’s history.

    So in talking about American notions about private property, I wasn’t making a judgment as to whether they are inherently good or bad. But I think the United Order would be perceived as an affront to the American worldview, especially in nineteenth-century frontier America.


  25. There is no discussion about the need to do more to help the poor. Its easy, state that fact and the case is closed. BTW, You don’t worship a different God, you are just beating the dead horse instead of figuring out a way to get it to the glue factory and find another one to till the field! Yelling from the rooftops that there are poor and we need to do something about it doesn’t do anything, nobody really denies that. People don’t want to do enough to help (its true that it sucks to give up your comforts to help those that don’t have them and that creates the bottleneck in the system), but I’m sure more good would happen if you put all that dead horse beating into organizing a relief fund and facilitating relief.

    There is plenty discussion as to where the line is between being too critical about the Lord’s anointed and disagreeing with their opinion. If Pres. Hinckley said that “Chevy trucks are the best.” Obviously, so what! When he says that the Savior is our redeemer and that he is the mouthpiece, there is nothing to argue against there. Where is the line in the middle? That is where the interesting conversation lies.

    So, is the leadership wrong? Is the cultural norm within Mormonism wrong? Is all humankind wrong? Therein lies another discussion and probably more of what you were getting at. The “derailment” occurred because of question 1 in this paragraph can not be stated without drawing the line discussed in the second paragraph. That question and the line drawing HAVE to be laid out together. You can’t have a complete argument/thesis/discussion of the first without the second. That is part of the credibility argument that I was getting at with my first post.


  26. When he says that the Savior is our redeemer and that he is the mouthpiece, there is nothing to argue against there.

    Of course, the precise meaning of being the Lord’s mouthpiece is up for interpretation. Does it mean that everything Pres. Hinckley says is inspired? Only what he says in an “official” capacity? Only some of what he says in an official capacity? If we allow for the possibility that he is uninspired some of the time (and I think we must), then how do we deal with that? Is it inappropriate to try to determine what is and isn’t inspired? Can we question whether something is inspired? Can we challenge or disagree with that which we feel is uninspired? Can something be inspired yet not 100% correct?

    Obviously, there are a lot of tough questions and few easy answers. That reality should discourage black-and-white thinking, and allow for some flexibility and mutual tolerance when it comes to personal beliefs regarding what it means to “sustain” church leaders.


  27. Sorry Steve, but that was completely redundant. “the precise meaning of being the Lord’s mouthpiece is up for interpretation”. I did not deny that. I said that him saying he is the mouthpiece is not up for argument. Where we draw the line thereafter is. Maybe you didn’t mean to clarify my post, but quoting it at the start implies that you were. Both you and the Narrator are losing discussion credibility in logical argumentative structure and support. Sorry 😦

    PS-that is not ad hominem. I am not trying to degrade you as a person, just pointing out that I lose the desire to continue analyzing a topic when lack of logic impairs your support. You as a person are irrelevant to this topic and I have not touched on that as a supporting argument for my statements. I did state that I think the Narrator could achieve more happiness through various personality changes, but that was given as a side note of help from my previous experience. I didn’t use it to fault your argument.


  28. I’d love to see this get back to the core of what Loyd was bringing up. I am constantly thinking about how I can better help the poor, and what the Lord expects of me. I don’t think it’s my place to decide what the Church should be doing as an institution, but I do think that each of us as individuals should be asking ourselves all of the time what we could be doing to help relieve suffering of the poor. Is it enough to pay fast offerings? Should we be selling our homes and moving into little huts and selling off all we have? I suspect the answer usually lies somewhere in the middle. I’m not convinced that we should stop at fast offerings, but I’m also not convinced that the Lord expects us to live on and in nothing. I’d be interested in people’s thoughts on these things.


  29. Tom,

    There are so many problems with your last comment.

    FIrst, an ad hominem fallacy doesn’t need to be degrading, or even necessarily ‘attack’ the other person. It is a fallacy constructed by criticizing the character, actions, etc of the other instead of criticizing the argument itself. Your appeal to steve’s and my supposed lack of a logical argumentative structure , instead of dealing with what I actually wrote is a fine example.

    Second, I wasn’t even presenting an argument. So accusing me of lacking a proper argumentative structure is ridiculous, because none was intended. I was writing up a narrative of my own experience and reflections on the Law of Consecration. If you want to see me presenting a logical argument, go to my normal blog and read the philosophical papers I have posted there.

    Third, it should seem obvious to most people that Steve wasn’t clarifying your post. On most blogs, people quote a line from a previous comment or post to make clear what it is they are responding to – not to clarify that sentence.

    Fourth, you said…

    If Pres. Hinckley said that “Chevy trucks are the best.” Obviously, so what! When he says that the Savior is our redeemer and that he is the mouthpiece, there is nothing to argue against there.

    My reading of this (and I would bet most people read this the same way) was that you were saying that whether or not Pres. Hinckley is the mouthpiece for God is not up for argument. I say it is very much up for argument because the very grammar (I’m using this term in a Wittgensteinian sense) of the phrase “he is the mouthpiece” can have very different senses. And while I think it is a very interesting discussion (it’s actually the subject of much of my upcoming senior thesis), I’d rather not derail the discussion on the Law of Consecration any further.

    m&m,

    I do think those are excellent questions – questions that I think are intentionally left unanswered because it forces us to make those decisions ourselves. Before his crucifixion, Jesus chose to have his feet anointed with expensive oils instead of using that to help the poor. Let’s assume that it actually happened and is not artistic editorial licensing. What does this mean? Are we then allowed some luxuries (as Aristotle would argue), or was there a particular divine purpose for this that was more important than the suffering it may have alleviated? What does this say about our own luxuries and expensive temples and other means of worship?

    One thing I learned on my mission (and elsewhere) is that if we want to justify something, we’ll find a way. I don’t think our luxuries are much different. We can find a way to justify whatever we have. I am pretty sure this was the case originally with the rich young man who approached Jesus. From all accounts, I’m pretty sure that he was a good person doing the right things. I’m also pretty sure that he knew long before Jesus said anything that he was living in luxury and should have been helping out the poor. The Hebrew scriptures are full of such instructions. It was when Jesus brought it to the foreground, when he laid it on the line, that the full implications and importance of it were made aware. It was at that moment that the rich young man (if maybe just for a moment) realized his justifications were wrong.

    And maybe that is where the two discussions on this post can work together. And maybe that is where my frustrations lie. The church today is full of robots willing to unquestioningly follow the President of the church (I say ‘President’ because I believe the role of a prophet and a priest (or President) are two very different things – a topic for elsewhere). Unless, of course, if it’s against hunting. Pres. Kimball tried that and everyone just ignored him. Perhaps if Pres. Hinckley came forward and spoke as critically of the disparity of the rich and poor as the prophets in the scriptures did, then perhaps the members would act more on it, just as so many did jumping on the ‘6 Be’s’ bandwagon. Or maybe, just like with hunting, and just like with those in the scriptures, it will be ignored cuz it’s just too much fun to kill animals and drive luxury cars.


  30. I’m confused here. How is one claiming that the narrator’s ARGUMENT is flawed and illogical an ad hominem attack? It’s not! You just keep reaching for a reason to discredit the proof that Tom and I have been presenting and chose to latch onto some catchy phrase that should justify yourself. If we are discrediting your statement, not the character of the person, then you should at least respect the rebuttal that we provide. How could I possibly attack the Narrator when I know nothing about him? I have never said, “the narrator swears, therefore his argument isn’t valid” or “the narrator has a drinking problem, therefore I’m not going to listen to him talk about helping the poor”. Those are ad hominem attacks, not “the Narrator isn’t being logical about his assumptions regarding condemnation of riches or the response from church leaders”.


  31. Also, there seems to be much confusion regarding when President Hinckley is speaking for God. I have a couple of thoughts on this. One, if we claim to be members of the church, then we sustain him as a prophet, seer and revelator, which means that we don’t pick and choose which statements of his to adhere to. Yes some of the things he says might be wrong and might be his opinion, but we have already been promised in D & C that the Lord will not allow the prophet to lead the church astray. That statement right there should put at ease all your concerns about whether or not he is misguided and that our “leaders spend their efforts (and our tithing) condemning gays”. If we sustain them and believe in modern revelation, whether or not we agree with his tactics is irrelevant, we are to follow and support him. I for one would rather err on the side of caution than slide into apostasy as Brigham Young warned. If that means that I am guilty of being a “robot” as you put it, then so be it. I am not offended by such a phrase. Another trendy phrase that critics of the church use is “sheep”. Go ahead and call me a sheep for following President Hinckley, I actually take that as a compliment because the Savior many times referred to his followers as sheep.
    If we want to be happy in our lives we have been promised by the Lord that we should follow the prophet. It’s as simple as the primary hymn says.
    So tying this back into the main theme of the Narrator, if we claim to believe in modern revelation, then we should follow the prophet and adhere to his counsel on how to help the poor. Despite what the narrator has said, President Hinckley and many of the apostles have not only told us how to do it, they have shown it by their own actions and how they have run the church humanitarian relief effort among other programs admired the worldwide.

    That is where my beef comes in with this whole thread, first, as I mentioned before, don’t claim riches to be the most condemned sin in the book of mormon, it is not. Maybe you can say most frequently condemned, but even that is debatable. Second, don’t criticize the leaders of the church for focusing on the wrong sins in their discourses. Who are we to say what God should be telling his children? Third, nobody on here has denied that we need to help the poor more and cling to our wealth less, so please quit trying to side step the real issues at hand in the article “The Law of Insouciance”.


  32. Tom,

    I did not quote from your previous comment to “clarify” it. However, I also did not say or imply that you did not agree that the meaning of “mouthpiece of the Lord” is ambiguous; your comment (“Where is the line in the middle? That is where the interesting conversation lies”) suggested that you recognize this. Honestly, I quickly copied a line from your comment merely to signify that I was responding to you. Sorry for any confusion that this may have caused.

    My comment was intended to respond to a point you have raised throughout the thread–that it is inappropriate to criticize church leaders (see, e.g., comments 15 and 19). If we recognize that “mouthpiece of the Lord” lacks a precise meaning and that there’s room for discussion as to what it entails and to where its limits are (as you apparently do), then we must also recognize that reasonable people may come to different conclusions as to what constitutes prophethood, what is and is not inspired, and to what degree members might criticize their leaders (in the constructive, not fault-finding, sense) while still sustaining them. Nobody in this post is arguing that Hinckley is not God’s “mouthpiece”; however, there are obviously different opinions as to what degree of criticism or public dissent is appropriate. And I think the inherent ambiguity in what it means to be a prophet and what it means to “sustain” a prophet demands that we exercise a degree of mutual tolerance and concede that faithful members may disagree on these matters.

    I apologize if my prior comment was not entirely clear, but I do believe that it was logically related to the points you raised.

    I’m in favor of getting back to the topic of the Law of Consecration. Obviously, the argument about sustaining leaders can (and often does) go on forever.


  33. Let us not forget that Brigham Young died with an estate valued at over $10,000,000.00 yes you read that correctly TEN MILLION DOLLARS. GBH lives in a mansion and lives the life of a Bill Gates. So what is the real LDS mantra, “Show me the Money.”


  34. Travis,

    How is one claiming that the narrator’s ARGUMENT is flawed and illogical an ad hominem attack?

    Simple – by making a general claim as Tom did about Steve’s and my supposed “losing discussion credibility in logical argumentative structure and support” instead of criticizing the non-existent argument itself. That is an appeal to my character and actions, not a criticism of the argument.

    You just keep reaching for a reason to discredit the proof that Tom and I have been presenting and chose to latch onto some catchy phrase that should justify yourself.

    What proof? As far as I’m aware, I’ve been trying to keep in discussion the points you have made. What is it exactly that I have merely tried to discredit? Tom accused me of being illogical, but I don’t recall him pointing out where my non-existent argument was illogical.

    How could I possibly attack the Narrator when I know nothing about him?

    By claiming, as Tom did, that “the Narrator [is] losing discussion credibility in logical argumentative structure and support.” You don’t have to know someone to commit an ad hominem fallacy, you can just make some general claim about the person or their tactics without criticizing the argument itself.

    Those are ad hominem attacks, not “the Narrator isn’t being logical about his assumptions regarding condemnation of riches or the response from church leaders”.

    Well geez, after such revisionism of course. But that wasn’t what was said. That would just be a broad and baseless claim lacking evidence… something you guys were initially accusing me of. I’m not even sure if you know what logic is though, because I have yet to see any evidence that I had been illogical. If you are going to say that I was being illogical because I did not appeal to logic, that’s fine – because I wasn’t attempting to formulate a logical argument. If you want to say that I was being illogical because what I said defied or went against logic, then you’ve got some backing up to do.


  35. If that means that I am guilty of being a “robot” as you put it, then so be it. I am not offended by such a phrase. Another trendy phrase that critics of the church use is “sheep”. Go ahead and call me a sheep for following President Hinckley, I actually take that as a compliment because the Savior many times referred to his followers as sheep.
    If we want to be happy in our lives we have been promised by the Lord that we should follow the prophet. It’s as simple as the primary hymn says.

    Holy freedom fries Batman! Wasn’t the war in heaven fought over agency?!

    Satan: “Surrender to me your agency and I will guarantee your salvation!”

    I can scarcely imagine that God desires the same from us.

    Becoming robots (or literal sheep) is hardly how I see the meaning of the metaphor of following the Savior. The Savior leads us by example, but his servants are not equipped with his perfection as the only begotten Son.

    Abandon reason all ye who enter here? Sorry, no can do. Nor does God desire that from me as a thinking, rational being. That’s why it is relevant to know when the servants speak with His voice or with their own (pretending to speak with His). It’s my privilege and duty (as His son) to filter the wheat from the chaff, and grow. Otherwise our Zweck des Lebens, the reason we are here in mortality, becomes meaningless.


  36. Travis,

    If you want to start questioning someone’s logic. Try something like this…

    One, if we claim to be members of the church, then we sustain him as a prophet, seer and revelator, which means that we don’t pick and choose which statements of his to adhere to.

    First, a grammar issue. Is the latter have a definition of the former, or a conclusion of the former. If it is a definition, then I’ve got a problem right from the beginning because I disagree with your definition. Joseph Smith said that he was only a prophet when acted as such. By his definition, it seems then that a prophet is only a prophet when he is in the act of prophesying – not that he is a prophet all of the time. By this, we can assume that sometimes he is a prophet. Other times, he is just President Joseph Smith. Of course this then brings up the question of how we can know when the President is acting as a prophet of God. One time Joseph Smith received a revelation telling Oliver Cowder, David Whitmer, and pals to go to Canada and sell the Canadian copyright of the Book of Mormon to get money to help the saints. They failed (and in fact, it was impossible for them to sell it at that time). When they returned they asked Joseph what happened. He replied, “Some revelations come from God, some from man, and some from the devil.” Implied here is that even when Joseph thought he was acting as a prophet of God, that he is still human and can err in understanding the source of revelation. It seems much like my own experience with personal revelation – ‘was that from God, or was that my own wishes and thoughts?’

    Furthermore, besides your definition being problematic, if you were trying to formulate a logical structure here, then you failed because the latter does not necessarily follow from the former. For it to do so, there must be other premises give, such as “everything spoken by a person sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator comes from God.”

    Yes some of the things he says might be wrong and might be his opinion,

    This problematizes your previous claim because I’m sure that you are not claiming that we must accept things that are wrong. It also begs the question of determining whether the words of a person called to act as a prophet is from god, from man, or from the devil.

    we have already been promised in D & C that the Lord will not allow the prophet to lead the church astray.

    First, I’m not even sure if this appendix to the official declaration is canonized scripture. Second, even if it is, what it means to “lead the church astray” is quite vague. Does this include matters of doctrine? Economics? Economics? Politics? Salvation? Etc? It couldn’t be doctrine because Presidents of the church have flat-out contradicted each other on matters of doctrine – for example B. Young taught the Adam-God doctrine (Yes, he did) and Joseph F. Smith said that such a teaching was false. Which President, then, was leading the church doctrinally astray? Economics? Joseph Smith led the saints economically astray with the Kirkland Bank. Should we go on? Perhaps maybe the President just cannot lead the church to hell. I could maybe give you that. But then, how would God go about that? Would he look into their hearts and kill them before they do so? Since the President is traditionally called be seniority of the apostleship, does God kill those off he fears may lead the church astray? Are only those called who are already guaranteed to not make mistakes? Do apostles have free agency? Or are issues of salvation so standardized now that it’s pretty impossible for a President to lead us soteriologicall astray?

    Third, this of course, all begs the question of whether or not Wilford Woodruff was leading the church astray when he said God would not allow him to lead the church astray.

    The rest of your ‘argument’ fails because of the fallacies and problems above.

    Another trendy phrase that critics of the church use is “sheep”.

    As a critic of the culture, I prefer to use “blind sheep.” The kind that don’t know their shepherd from a tree. I’d rather not get into the game of seeing who can get the most quotes from church leaders to back up our opinions – because for almost any issue, one can find a church leader who supports either side of it. But since we are using B. Young, here are a few…

    ” “What a pity it would be, if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.””

    “How easy it would be for your leaders to lead you to destruction, unless you actually know the mind and will of the spirit yourselves.”

    And here is George Q. Cannon : “Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a president. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone;”

    Now can we please get back to the Law of Consecration. I think M&M brought up some important questions.


  37. Rich, I do have agency. I have the agency to follow the prophet or not. Just as those in the pre-mortal life had the agency to follow the savior or not.


  38. I agree that we have agency to follow the prophet or not. But you forfeit your agency when you decide to (blindly) follow everything he says without question or discernment.

    If you apply your agency every single time, then that’s okay, that’s different. But a blanket “I’ll follow him off a cliff and down to the depths of hell, because by God, I’m a good, obedient boy!” is hardly a good exercise of agency (or obedience for that matter). I think Lloyd outlined this rather elegantly and comprehensively in his last comment.

    Sorry for the thread-jack. Back to the main topic at hand…

    Have any of you watched Michael Moore’s latest expose of the health care industry (particularly focusing on the insurance industry), “Sicko”? While I realize that it may fall short on objectivity at times, it does raise some very important points relating to how we (as a nation) are failing to care for the poor, and provides some practical suggestions (IMO) of what might be done about it. Important food for thought; I highly recommend y’all go rent it and think about what we can do to effect an important change in our culture that is long overdue (and continually getting worse).

    That said, I also know that our LDS culture, subjected to daily doses of Sean Hannity on KSL every afternoon (with the blessing of the first presidency), has been brainwashed into thinking that Michael Moore is the spawn of Satan, and everything he says is a bald faced lie, and renting his video is tantamount to giving money to the church of Satan, so we will plug our ears and shut our eyes and say “La La La” so we don’t have to hear his distorted lies. I also realize that we’ve also been warned time and again that anything socialized is wicked and evil (public education, social security, the U.S. military, post office, public libraries, etc.), and everything should be privatized because, after all, capitalism is God-ordained and holy (and the United Order or anything like it is just good theory but too impractical to ever actually implement).


  39. Um, boys, play nice. Don’t make me pull this car over!


  40. What does this say about our own luxuries and expensive temples and other means of worship?

    Loyd, my point was that it’s not our place to decide how the church as an institution approaches this issue of helping the poor. Let the leaders do things within their stewardship. What I am concerned about is that I fulfill my own stewardship to help the poor and all else that the Lord expects from me as an individual.

    perhaps the members would act more on it,

    Or perhaps our leaders are speaking about what they feel they should be speaking about, and we are supposed to not be commanded in all things and do much good of our own volition. You keep focusing on what the Church should change, and yet I haven’t really heard you share what you think an individual might be able to do. I think you would get a lot more response and brainstorming and discussion that leads us toward maybe even making some changes if you kept focused on what we actually have responsibility for — ourselves. It’s not our business to tell the leaders how to run things or what to talk about. All that does is distract energy and focus from what we can be doing in the moment as individuals.


  41. m&m,

    I wasn’t trying to criticize the money spent on temples, I was asking if their was a relationship (not necessarily causal) between Jesus’ being anointed with expensive oils and our highest worship being performed in expensive temples.

    You keep focusing on what the Church should change, and yet I haven’t really heard you share what you think an individual might be able to do.

    Because I believe that the Church is simply an assembly of individuals, I don’t think the two can be that separated. My original post was meant to be about the individual. What the church should do is merely an congregation of what the individual should do.


  42. I’d like to see some brainstorming and discussion of what we can really do, also. Just look at all the individuals and families still on the streets of SLC, right under the nose of our people and our Church and our fast offerings! What if each LDS family in Salt Lake took it upon themselves to help one street person during the year? By help I mean, make sure they have enough to eat, a place to live, help them get a job, etc. Get to know their names and who they really are. I’m not at all sure that all of these people really want to be out on the streets.


  43. My original post was meant to be about the individual.

    What was this then?

    instead of condemning the rich our leaders spend their efforts (and our tithing) condemning gays.

    The ultimate question I have for you when reading your posts is this…is this the Lord’s church or the people’s? If it is the Lord’s then why reach out your hand to steady the ark?


  44. Interesting thread. First, the title of this thread “law of insouciance” seems kind of ironic to me. The irony is that the word insouciance means a blithe lack of concern, yet there seems to be plenty of concern regarding these topics. Anybody else laughing? Ok, maybe not.
    It also seems to me that everyone that has commented so far believes that we do need to care for the poor. I think we should quit worrying about many of the smaller things of the gospel and focus on the basics. I know that my testimony grew tremendously on my mission by simply focusing on the basics found in the discussions. As intelectually stimulating as these discussions can be, these finer details aren’t what’s going to get us into the celestial kingdom but rather will distract us from our main goal. If this were not the case, then why else do illiterate, simple people receive promises of their salvation? I believe it is because of their faith and adherence to the gospel principles. So, let’s not be like the pharisees and saducees of Jesus’s time and lose out because we are looking beyond the mark.
    Again, if Jesus made his gospel so simple that even uneducated farmers and laborers could follow it, why should we complicate it?


  45. BiV, I think there are so many good causes that part of the challenge is determining how to focus, or what to choose. There are so many organized efforts as well as things we could just do on our own, such as what you said about adopting a homeless family, if you will. So do that, or send money to Heifer, or to a microcredit organization, or to the food bank, or or or…. I also think we can’t minimize the good that fast offerings, the PEF, and the humanitarian fund do as well. But what I struggle with is the sheer volume of need. There will always be more need than we can fill, so I think it’s not so much WHAT we do that we do SOMETHING. And that our hearts are willing to do what the Lord might guide us to do. We probably ought to ask Him what He’d have us do.


  46. The ultimate question I have for you when reading your posts is this…is this the Lord’s church or the people’s? If it is the Lord’s then why reach out your hand to steady the ark?

    I don’t think it’s that simple. You are suggesting that if the Church is “the Lord’s,” then members should to keep quiet, rather than voice their concerns about the welfare of the Church. I have a couple thoughts . . .

    First, according to the Doctrine and Covenants, the people are the Church: “Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church” (D&C 10:67). Therefore, separating “the people” and “the Church” into separate entities may not be appropriate. Even if you believe in divine guidance and prophetic leadership, the members, who collectively compose the Church, still share in its maintenance, progress, and success (or failure). Things are to be done “by common consent,” which suggests more than mere passive compliance with whatever the upper levels of the hierarchy hands down.

    Additionally, the Book of Mormon indicates that becoming “the Lord’s church” is something that we can’t take for granted: “And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (3 Nephi 27:8; emphasis added). If we are not built upon Christ’s gospel–to which caring for the needy and eliminating poverty are fundamental–then we cannot rightfully claim to be Christ’s church. If the members, who collectively comprise the Church, are not living these fundamental principles of Christ’s gospel, then in what sense can we say that we are “the Lord’s church”? Should we just sit back and be complacent? Granted, we must each take responsibility for our own actions, first and foremost. But in the Zion that is described in the scriptures and which Joseph Smith envisioned, salvation isn’t an individual affair, but is a community effort. Given the responsibility that that entrusts to each church member, what excuse do we have for not voicing our concerns? It seems to me that those who are concerned about the church community’s welfare would want to speak out.


  47. I don’t think it blasphemous to say that until the Lord himself returns to the earth to rule and reign will we actually fully have His church on earth. In the meantime we muddle our way through, looking through a glass darkly, hoping to get as close to the truth as we can, with fallible, human leaders and members trying to make sense of our world and how to get along with each other.

    It has always been so. Think about it — was it actually God that told Saul to butcher every living thing — women, babies, dogs and cats, etc., among the enemies of Israel, or did the prophet himself think such a barbarous act a wise one? I have to wonder what happens for example to the soul of a priesthood holder who runs a sword through an infant, or slits the throat of a young girl…

    Was it actually God that instructed Paul to preach that women should keep their hair long and their mouths shut? Was it actually God who told Joseph Smith to take multiple brides? Was it actually God that instructed Pres. Hinckley to back Bush as president? (Utah was certainly key in getting him [re-]elected).

    I agree with Lloyd — the Church is nothing more than a collection of individuals. This puts an awful responsibility of the leadership when the body is instructed to follow along. We are not a hive of mindless insects.

    Is this the Lord’s church or the people’s? The very phrasing of the question pushes buttons in me. My first thought/response was, “was man made for the sabbath, or the sabbath for man?”. The end goal is exaltation, but along the way we are here to gain knowledge, wisdom, overcome temptation and weakness, and learn to be like Christ, to learn to love and serve each other, to be wise stewards over what we’ve been given, and actually become more than the mindless brute Adam and Eve left behind in the garden of Eden.


  48. If this were not the case, then why else do illiterate, simple people receive promises of their salvation?

    Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the kingdom of God?

    What are these simple things? Is it the mere four steps that primary children offer :faith, repentance, baptism, holy ghost (and then tag on temple rites)? What does it mean to have faith. James seems to directly tie faith in with helping out the poor. Were the simple commandments all that the rich young man needed to enter the kingdom of heaven?

    What are the simple things according to Jesus?

    31 ¶ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
    32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
    46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    BiV’s last comment has really gotten me thinking lately. After reading it, I found myself not wanting to brainstorm ways in which I could help out the poor. Why? Because that would reinforce into my mind that there are things that I ought to be doing. I don’t know how much I want to do this. It’s hard. Very hard. As I pointed out in my original post, this is probably the most difficult thing to ask of us. Who is willing to do this? “Who then can be saved?”

    “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

    Isn’t this why we need the grace of God in our lives – to save us from our sins? Whether it be our love for our wealth which causes us to ignore the plight of others, addictions to drugs, sex, or whatever – those chains of sin that we just don’t seem to have the strength to overcome on our own. Isn’t this why we need God’s grace? The kingdom of God need not be some eschatological event, it can and should be now. It’s here and the question is whether or not we want to be a part of it now. It’s our sins that keep us from that – today. All we need to do is ask God to impart his grace to us and give us the strength to do so – the question of faith, then, is not if we believe he can, but, rather, if we want Him to impart that grace on us.


  49. lol.
    As hard as it was to live the United Order, I think it is even harder to live the Law of Consecration today. In the United Order, the expectations were clearly delineated, and the decision of how much of your substance was kept for the Lord’s use and how much was given back to you was made for you.

    Yes, there are things we ought to be doing besides paying our tithing and our Fast Offerings. Or else we wouldn’t be seeing the poor and homeless still waiting for a handout in the shadow of the SL Temple. But it’s much more difficult to have the responsibility of deciding what those things should be.


  50. BiV, I have to admit that I don’t really know that beggars in SLC really are a good example of how we need to help the poor and homeless. We have been asked specifically by our leaders to help them by donating to the organizations that are there to help them, not by enabling their behavior that doesn’t really help them up and out of their situation. This isn’t about not caring; it’s about caring about more than just giving them a dollar. Welfare principles are important to consider in all of this. This is why I prefer looking at organizations that help people learn to help themselves, such as Heifer or microcredit organizations, or the PEF fund or local shelters and other organizations that help people beyond a drop in a can. The gospel is about more than just handouts, although I do try to do that, too. But in the specific situation in SLC, I think that is really not a good one to illustrate where we could do better.


  51. p.s. I really don’t want this to dissolve into an argument about King Benjamin and are we not all beggars, because I believe that scripture to be true. But I also believe there are good, better and perhaps even best ways to serve and help. A drop in a can might ease our consciences for a moment, but I’m not convinced it’s often the best way to actually serve those in need. Particularly in this specific situation in Salt Lake with specific instruction given to Church members, I find it meaningful to ponder how we can make the most difference, including truly helping people’s lives change…the whole hand up not just hand out thing.

    And BiV, I also realize that you were suggesting more than just drops in can in an earlier comment, and that of course is an example of hand-up kinds of things (helping them get jobs, etc.)


  52. Thought of you all today. A letter from the First Presidency was read to members in Utah to participate in an “Alliance for Unity” food drive to help fill the food banks in the state. Thought that was pretty cool.


  53. bummer. my ward didn’t read it.


  54. Did you note also the focus on service in the Christmas devotional?


  55. unfortunately i was busy studying for the gre and missed the devo.


  56. Ugh. Good luck with that. (I took the GMAT. Not a fun experience.)

    You can watch it anytime at byu.tv…the movemedia player has a DV-R feature that is awesome. I imagine they might have it accessible at lds.org sometime, too.


  57. And if you go to fMh, there is a great team effort going on that we’ve all been invited to participate in. Janet has set a goal for the ‘nacle to raise $1000 for Heifer International. If you want to consider joining this awesome effort, click on the “General Team Donation” link.



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